Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian nationalist, once remarked, “A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people” (brainyquote.com). In literature and poetry, a culture’s societal values and principles are commonly exemplified. Readers can understand the cultural beliefs of a society from carefully reading its literary pieces. The poem Beowulf embodies societal ideals and attitudes of Anglo-Saxon culture. The Medieval epic poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, typifies Anglo-Saxon values such as oral-storytelling, heroic behavior, and loyalty.
Several examples of the value of storytelling are apparent in Beowulf.. Storytelling in the mead halls is the primary form news. After Beowulf’s victory over Grendel, a minstrel starts “rehearsing Beowulf’s triumphs and feats” in a poetic manner (Heaney 59). Through story-telling, the men and women of Anglo-Saxon society are able to spread stories, and then the stories will travel all across the land and to the people. Stories told in Beowulf introduce new heroes, such as the titular character himself, and their accomplishments, which in turn become history. Comparatively, storytelling is one of the few means of historical and cultural preservation in Anglo-Saxon society. After Grendel’s defeat, Beowulf and his troops gather in the mead hall where “the king’s poet performed his part with the saga of Finn and his sons” (Heaney 71).The poet tells an ancient tale of a dispute between the Danes and Frisians that depicts cultural aspects such as the notion of wyrd, honor, and vengeance. The story incorporates historical and cultural values that are spread by traditional oral recitations. Oral-storytelling is an important part of Anglo-Saxon culture.
Another highly valu...
... middle of paper ...
...hat Beowulf was loyal to his people as he had returned to them. Loyalty was a prominent feature in Anglo-Saxon culture.
By carefully reading Beowulf, a scholar can accumulate information about the values that dominated Anglo-Saxon society. Anglo-Saxons utilized storytelling to entertain and to teach their people. Heroic behavior such as honor and strength were immensely important in society. Loyalty to the king and to the people was essential to be a worthy individual. Although poetry often conveys great stories, upon closer examination it reveals important facets of a society.
Curtis, Ian. “What Anglo-Saxon societal values are presented in Beowulf?” AIM English.
New Gym Classroom. 4-11-14
Gandhi, Mahatma. 2001-2014 brainyquote.com. April 13, 2014.
Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. Print.
The Story Beowulf is an Epic poem written in the Anglo-Saxon period. The author of the poem is unknown. Beowulf is the hero of the story and the Thane to Hygelac the king of the Geats in Sweden. When Beowulf finds out the Grendel (the big guy) is causing problems in Denmark he decides to go over there and help them out. He fights Grendel and everyone is happy. Then Grendels mother comes to avenge her son so Beowulf has to go fight her also. After winning that battle Beowulf goes back to the Geats and becomes king and rules for fifty winters. Everything is good until he has to go fight this dragon. The dragon ends up killing Beowulf. In the story you can see how things like Honor, fame, and Courage are associated with Beowulf. The reason that he take the dangerous journey is to gain all there of those characteristics in his journey. Out lines below is how he gets each one of those traits in the story.
In Beowulf, the essence left behind by a true hero is extremely important. In epics such as this one, leaders tend to have the determination and boldness of a hero. On the other hand, the main character, Beowulf, does not only display these certain traits. In this heroic poem, respect and trust come naturally. Honor and integrity are present throughout the poem. There are many moments in Beowulf that manifest the many traits that a person should have. This proves how important these attributes are to the characters and the Anglo-Saxon society. Although Beowulf has no known author, it embodies many of the beliefs and morals of the early Germanic society. The author of this epic poem uses many approaches in order to demonstrate that respect and trust are fundamental characteristics of a leader and hero.
The strongest ties of loyalty in their society were to kin and lord. A kingdom was only as strong as its war-leader king. In order to have loyal men, the King needed to repay them. In other words the men were paid for loyalty. They were sometimes given, land, gold, money, food, armor and other things for a reward after battle. Both the Anglo-Saxons and the characters in Beowulf are willing to risk their life at any moment-they are inattentive to danger. The Anglo-Saxons acquired riches by plundering treasures of their enemies. Every family formed a bond of loyalty and protection. A family was bound to avenge a father or brother’s death by feud with the tribe or clan which had killed him. This duty of blood revenge was the supreme religion of the Anglo-Saxons. The family passed down this hatred forever until avenged. Always staying loyal to family and the lord. (Allen, 12-14)
Epic heroes usually exemplify the character traits most admired in their societies, and Beowulf is no exception. "Beowulf" is set in the Anglo-Saxon society, a time when war was rampant among the many peoples trying to take over the different kingdoms of England. In this dangerous, violent time people lived in constant peril and jeopardy. These conditions only allowed people of great bravery to survive and men of outstanding courage were admired the populous. These warriors fought for their leader and tribe in return for treasure and protection. This relationship between the lord and his men was the basis of the Anglo-Saxon society. The epic poem "Beowulf" is a perfect example of how this system worked in these trying times.
The epic and oral poem Beowulf illustrates a loss of community, cultural values, and tradition. Beowulf, the main character, is an ideal king and archetypal warrior. History is relevant to Beowulf; this Germanic society was being taken over by Christian missionaries who were seeking to convert this culture. The character of Beowulf is a reflection of the Germanic culture's virtues; heroism is emphasized in the text's multiple references and constant focus on heroes and what it is to be a hero. Beowulf, who is reflective of an older generation of heroes, strives for community. In contrast, Christianity's focus is on the individual. This conflict is ended once Beowulf, a figure of the past and the old world, passes on. With Beowulf, the hero dies. Hence, Beowulf's efforts to keep his culture and his ethics alive are impossible as war and Christianity conquer the Germanic land.
Beowulf was written anonymously like most poems during the Anglo-Saxon period. During this time period, “there was a rigid code of behavior that stressed bravery, loyalty and [the] willingness to avenge” (Rougeau-Vanderford “Themes in Beowulf”.) His character represents the true values of the Anglo-Saxon values, from his sacrifices, to the loyalty he shows his people. The Anglo-Saxons culture believed that “life was regarded as valuable,” (Rougeau-Vanderford “Themes in Beowulf”) making Beowulf’s sacrifice the ultimate display of
The Anglo-Saxon culture ran on the outline of the heroic code. The warrior pledged allegiance to his lord in exchange for protection (“Beowulf” 38). Through acts of strength and bravery in battle, the warrior rose in levels of nobility and received rewards from his lord for his bravery (“Beowulf” 38). Hrothgar, king of the Danes and lord of the Scyldings, builds a mead hall, Heorot, to honor his warriors and give gifts to them (Beowulf 67-73). A savage demon named Grendel attacks the great hall and kills thirty of Hrothgar’s men (Beowulf 122). Beowulf, a young Geat warrior, leaves his homeland to aid King Hrothgar in purging the Danes of Grendel. Beowulf’s act of allegiance extends past the kingdom of his homeland by ‘rescuing’ the Danish people. His actions not only illustrate courage but the principle of allegiance to his family and himself. Upon arriving on the Danish shore, Beowulf states, “We belong by birth to the Geat people / and owe allegiance to Lord Hygelac. / I come to proffer / my wholehearted help and counsel” (Beowulf 260-1, 277-8). Beowulf declares his allegiance to his lord and is willing to come to the Danes’ aid. Hrothgar knows that Beowulf is only in Denmark to “follow up a...
Beowulf. When most people hear the name they tend to think about his battles and fighting. However, the majority of people would overlook the traits of how Beowulf exemplifies the Anglo-Saxon culture. For instance, throughout the epic poem, Beowulf, it shows the culture of the ANglo-Saxon by how the characters show their love of glory, loyalty to a leader, and their belief in fate.
...e was more important than his own. In his last dying moments, Beowulf thought about his people rather than the condition he was in. In his weak state, he said, “Take What I leave, Wiglaf, lead my people, Help them; my time is gone “(Raffel 16). He was willing to hand over to Wiglaf the responsibility of taking care of his people. He believed Wiglaf was a leader himself and appointed him to lead his people to triumph. Three individual aspects made up a leader in the Anglo-Saxon age: loyalty, bravery, and generosity.
Anglo-Saxon women are objects who are gifts to generate a fragile peace. Bloody combat between men attempting to earn fame embodies the Anglo-Saxon era. But does history include women? No, in fact, most women in the epic poem Beowulf are unworthy of even a name. Men trap women as objects; those who rebel become infamous monsters in society’s eyes. Because Anglo-Saxon men view women as objects, they are unable to control any aspect of their lives--no matter if she is royalty or the lowest of all mothers.
At the heart of Anglo-Saxon literature is the epic poem Beowulf. It was written in Old English somewhere between the middle of the 7th and the end of the 10th century by an unknown poet. Beowulf has come to be recognized as the foundational epic of English and British culture (Shmoop). The story has its roots in a pagan Saxon past, but by the time the epic poem was written down, almost all Anglo-Saxons had converted to Christianity. As a result the poet resolved his new Christian beliefs with the un-Christian behavior of the characters.
Anglo Saxon’s history is well known for their loyalty, courage and bravery. Beowulf our protagonist is symbolized as a hero, who represents the Anglo Saxons at the time. Beowulf earns his fame and respect through battling creatures nobody else would want to face. These creatures symbolize the evil that lurks beyond the dark. Beowulf’s intense battle with these creatures’ symbolizes the epic battle of good versus evil. In the end good triumphs over evil but one cannot avoid death. Beowulf’s death can be symbolized as the death of the Anglo Saxons. Beowulf’s battle through the poem reflects the kind of culture that the Anglo Saxons had. The youth of a warrior to his maturity then the last fight which results in death. Beowulf wanted to be remembered and be told in stories that are passed on from generation to generation after his death. These story tellers relate to the Anglo Saxons time when they told stories about their great heroes.
Beowulf is the single greatest story of Old English literature and one of the greatest epics of all time. Ironically, no one can lay claim to being the author of this amazing example of literature. The creator of this poem was said to be alive around 600 A.D. and the story was, since then, been passed down orally from generation to generation. When the first English monks heard the story, they took it upon themselves to write it down and add a bit of their own thoughts. Thus, a great epic and the beginning to English literature was born.